A Profile of Astros LHP Brett Oberholtzer

Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow was recently asked about potential September call-ups. One name that surfaced as a possibility was LHP Brett Oberholtzer who is currently pitching for the Oklahoma City Redhawks AAA franchise. So who exactly is Brett Oberholtzer?

An eighth round draft pick by Atlanta in 2008, Brett came to Houston as part of the Michael Bourn trade in July 2011. Splitting his time between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City this season, Oberholtzer has an overall 10-10 record with a 4.52 ERA, a 1.374 WHIP and a 3.28 SO/BB ratio. That sounds like a solid, if rather uninspiring, pitching resume until you look at Oberholtzer a little more closely. Despite pitching a career high 159 and a third innings so far this season, he appears to be getting stronger, hitting his stride with the Redhawks team. Over his last four outings, he may be 1-3, but that comes with a 2.22 ERA and a 1.165 WHIP, and 25 strikeouts to six walks.

I interviewed Brett back in July and asked him about his pitch repertoire which includes a four-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and cutter. His fastball velocity has been up around 90-93 this season which is up from earlier reports of a 87-92 offering.  Jonathan Mayo cites his “outstanding command and control” and his ability to mix pitches well. In discussing Oberholtzer, Baseball America speaks of his “durable, innings-eater frame,” his pitching savvy and his self-awareness as he recognizes his strengths and weaknesses.

When I spoke with Keith Bodie, Oberholtzer’s former manager at Corpus Christi back in June, he described Brett as a tremendous athlete with all of the equipment to succeed, but noted that he needed to develop the mental side of pitching and to avoid falling into a rut of throwing rather than pitching. And that is precisely what his pitching coach in Oklahoma City, the inimitable Burt Hooten, has been working on with Brett. As a student of pitching, Hooten says, “He’s learning discipline, particularly on all of his pitches. He’s learning direction, mainly on his fastball. Learning rhythm, tempo, focus. Doing a good job. Heading in the right direction with all those things. He’s been a good student thus far.”

One thing that doesn’t show up in pitching lines or win-loss percentages, though, is what some call intangibles. To me, those intangibles are what set Brett Oberholtzer apart. In talking with him, I was struck by his focus, determination and maturity as a 23-year old. Yes, he has solid abilities, but it is his work ethic, mental toughness, exemplary attitude and overarching desire that I believe will bring him ultimate success. I hope to see him in Houston in September.

For more on the Astros farm system, please visit What the Heck, Bobby? or follow me on twitter @whattheheck57.

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